Friday, August 31, 2012

One last afternoon at the cabin...

In an effort to savor every last moment of our Colorado vacation, we spent the last few hours of daylight outside enjoying the babbling brook, cool grass and warm sunshine as a family of three:

Where's Grammy Pammy?

Mmmmm...nature tastes good!

Wallace Lake 2012...

Since yesterday's hike was a bit of a disaster, we decided take it easy on our last day in Colorado.  Plus, Trevor was still under the weather and I wanted to be able to spend time with my little family before heading back to Big D.  That meant no hiking if we wanted to all stay together...unless, I could find a destination accessible by Jeep.

We started out the day by having lunch in town so mom could have one last brown beer, and Trevor could buy his mother a present.  During this mealtime excursion, Banner had an opportunity to sit in his very first high chair; something he enjoyed very, very much.  I think it was because he felt like he was part of all the action at the table.

Banner just couldn't understand why
we wouldn't let him taste daddy's "beer".

Of course, all I could think of was all the germs on the high chair and the fact that I didn't have a wipe or any kind of disinfectant.  I swear I never used to be this neurotic.

Luckily, we had a paci, which we have plans to start phasing out once we return to Dallas.  He normally only has access to it when he sleeps (which is supposed to lower the risk of SIDS in the first year), but we've been using it more on the trip to Colorado because it keeps him from trying to put everything in his mouth.  Banner has mastered the pincer grip fine motor skill, and I caught him the other day trying to pick up ants and eat them.  Luckily, when the paci is in his mouth, the corner of the table, menus, paper, bugs, grass and whatever else he can find are not.

The exception, of course, was for his first slice of orange.  We meant for that to go in Banner's mouth:

Banner doing his best impression of Lady Falconburgh.

Anyway, after lunch, we travelled to Wallace Lake, which is up Missionary Ridge above CR 250.  According to my mother, it used to be a lovely little spot with three lakes - two on either of side of a larger one in the middle.  Around the perimeter, was a path and it provided a nice, little hike for visitors who either just arrived in the altitude or who wanted something short, flat and easy.

But then the 2002 fire happened, and the area, along with its thick aspen forest, was reduced to nothing but blackened stumps and ashes. 

Trevor and I visited Wallace Lake five years ago in 2007.  At the time, the lakes were full, and you could still see the path around the perimeter and through the trees.  We hoped that we'd find signs of even more recovery five years later, but instead we found that the lakes were all completely dry.  

It was evident by all the shell casings and clay fragments that the area was now being used more for skeet shooting, target practice and hunting than hiking, camping and fishing.  The path around the lake was overgrown and had all but vanished (except every now and again when you would briefly catch a glimpse of it), and the only life we saw were a herd of cows.

Wanting to recapture some of what used to be, mom, Banner (in the Bjorn) and I headed out for a hike around the clearing where the largest lake used to be, while Trevor watched us from the Jeep.  We tried to follow the old path, but it quickly disappeared and we were unable to locate it again.  So we forged our own trail through the tall grass, and slowly made our way around what used to be the perimeter of the lake.  During the walk, mom told me stories of hikes around Wallace Lake more than a decade ago.  She says it used to be one of her favorite hikes and was just as picturesque as Spud Lake.

Don't get me wrong, the area was still beautiful.  Just in a very different way.  The trees and forest are starting to return, but it was weird to see the lakes so completely dry.  It was a dry summer, but I didn't think it was that bad.

Anyway, here are some of my pictures from our last Colorado hike in 2012:

The view from the lake up Missionary Ridge
(looking northwest)

Whaaaat?  Another hike?

All done!
(He was very happy to see his daddy)

Views from the drive back down the ridge to the cabin.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bad hike. Bad.

Like several of the hikes we completed this summer, Trevor and I wanted to show my mother some of our favorite destinations and views in southwestern Colorado.  And, most of the time, we were successful and I feel very confident that my mom now has some new favorite hikes of varying length and difficulty to take her friends on when they visit her in Durango. 

This was NOT one of those hikes, however.  I thought it was going to be, but I was wrong.  Oh-so wrong.

Keeping with the theme of seeing places like Durango and Silverton from above, we decided that Grammy Pammy might enjoy a hike to Hogsback.  After all, there isn't much distance involved, but the payoff at the top is, in my opinion, much better than from Raider Ridge to the east.  Plus, Trevor and I did it in about 90 minutes back in 2010, and that included time spent relaxing and taking in the view at the top.  So, the plan was:  take Grammy Pammy up, and then meet Trevor and Banner in town for lunch and a celebratory brown beer at Lady Falconburgh's afterwards.

Knowing that the route Trevor and I took previously had the unpleasant scramble to get to the top, I figured I'd avoid that way and just take mom up the trail we came down in 2010.  I warned her in advance that it was a hot, dry and very rocky hike, but it never occurred to me that she would also find it steep and exposed.  I feel bad, though, because it should have after I watched her struggle (but overcome!) the steeper parts of Kendall on Monday and get dizzy looking down from Castle Rock the day before.

Needless to say, we turned around before reaching the top.  Mom was willing to continue, but I knew from experience that it was only going to get steeper the higher we went, and I didn't want her to reach her mental limit, panic and be unable to get back down.  And, despite her claims that there had to be a better trail to the summit (and back down), I knew that the path we were on was the easiest way.

That said, I also believe that, had the hike to Hogsback been covered in trees which masked the sides of the spine and ribs of the mountain, that she would have been absolutely fine.  It was the being able to look down that was the problem. 

Rationally, I know the trail we were on wasn't much (if any) steeper than some of the others we've hiked this summer.  But sometimes that doesn't matter, and I can totally empathize.  Because I am a complete wimp when it comes to skiing.  I've been doing it since I was two, but there is something about getting to the top of a run and looking down that completely freaks me out.  I will start out strong, but the longer I do it, the more it wears on me mentally.  So, by the end of a ski trip, even though I KNOW I can do it (hey, I've done it countless times that day, weekend or week!), I completely fall apart. 

And again, it isn't physical.  I am just worn out mentally from all that looking down from the top of a run on skies.  It is part of the reason why I switched to snowboarding a little over a decade ago.  At least when I am on a board, I can face back up the mountain during my turns and not look down the entire time.  It, ironically, helps prolong the enjoyment I do get out of the winter sport.  Plus, switching from skis to a board gave me an excuse to go at my own pace rather than try and keep up with my family.  Especially since my preferred method down the mountain involves numerous, large, gradual turns.  For everyone else, however, it seems to be a race to the bottom.

And, yet, it isn't like I have a fear of heights.  Nothing about standing on the edge of Castle Rock and looking down bothered me in the slightest.  Just like nothing about standing on skis at the top of a double black diamond run bothers my mother.  It is just the perspective.  Had the hike to Hogsback been covered in snow and my mother had been wearing skis, she would have been fine and I would have been the one scooting down the trail on my bum.  It is funny how something like that can completely change the way your mind can handle a situation.

In the end, we both made it down safely (although via slightly different routes, but that is a different story), and that is all that is important.

The view from the highest point before turning around.